I’m worried that I gave listeners the wrong impression Sunday morning. I was talking about drive-ins on Road Dog Trucking Radio, SiriusXM Channel 146. The show was Dave Nemo Weekends, hosted by Jimmy Mac. (Thanks, Jimmy!) Towards the end of the segment, he asked me about the future of drive-ins. Last week, I spent some time pruning the Carload drive-in list, and seeing a dozen healthy drive-ins shut down since the start of the pandemic left me a little bummed out. I gave an example or two of drive-ins that were reopening, but the fresh memory of those closures might have made me sound less optimistic than usual.
Now that I’m back to rummaging around for good news, I found an item that’s particularly close to home for me. The Pine Hill Drive-In in Piedmont MO had been in operation since 1953, but it closed in 2015 and was put up for sale soon after. I saw this historic, intact theater and hoped that someone would take over and get it ready for movies again. That finally happened when new owners bought the place in the fall of 2021 and reopened it just a few weeks ago on Memorial Day weekend.
Alva “A.B.” and Maude Jefferis built the Pine Hill in 1953 and lived in a house they also built behind the back fence of the drive in. Maude made the newspapers in 1973 when she photographed a number of odd blinking lights “high above the drive-in movie screen that stands beyond a pond in Mrs. Jefferis’s front yard.” The Pine Hill passed through another couple of owners after that, and I’m happy that it stayed active well into the new millennium. Now that it has fresh owners, I hope the drive-in can stay alive for another 70 years.